CAMPAIGN TO EXPLORE THE LIFE OF MOHAMMED-Andrew Stelzer

02/14/06

As protests against cantons depicting the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist continuing throughout the Arab world, the council on American Islamic relations, has come out to denounce any form of violent protest, and launch a campaign to educate the American public as to who Mohammed actually was. Ahmed Bedier, is the director of the west central Florida chapter of the council on American Islamic relations, abbreviated CAIR, he’s also the co host of the WMNF program True Talk.

ACT-Bedier “rather than protesting and carry out violence, we are choosing to use education..�

ACT-Bedier “had those editors knew the essence of Mohammed, they would have never depicted him, had the cartoonists known they would not have done him wrong like this..�

CAIR is launching the nationwide campaign to educate Americans of who the prophet Mohammed was, they are offering a free video tape of a 2004 PBS documentary about Mohammed, or a free book o Mohammed—anyone can order the book or DVD on the internet at www.cair.com/mohammed On the website, people can also organize screenings of the video, and find a screening in their community to attend.

ACT-VIDEO “the commerce allowed him to be a merchant, the job exposed him to new ideas….when he was 25 he had a major change, a wealthy widow asked him to take her caravans into Syria..he took all the goods to Syria and did a great job and her respect for him turned into admiration and she inquired, asked to marry her, I like you and your high reputation trustworthiness and truthfulness..’

A 13 minute clip of the 2 hour video is also available for viewing at the website. Berget Van Hout is the executive director of Community Tampa bay, which was formerly known as NCCJ. She, along with leaders from local Christian organizations, gathered for the press conference at the Islamic society of Tampa bays mosque of orient road, to express their support for the “explore the life of Mohammed� campaign.

ACT-Briget “we believe that intolerance is a product of fear, and education is essential..�

CAIR is calling on people in the Muslim world to not engage in violence, and they are also in opposition to a contest being run by an Iranian Newspaper, calling for submissions for cartoons, which ridicule the holocaust.

ACT-Bedier “Mohammed was peaceful, he would not have reacted in this way, and once people find out they will understand..�

Imam Sultan with the Islamic society of Tampa bay said that people need to understand Islam is a religion of peace.

ACT-sultan “we only don’t just respect Islam we respect all religions, Islam never did condone or encourage violence, it’s a system of laws that we must deal with..the violent action does not represent Islam, I know it’s hard for people to accept that..we as Muslims do not condone this..�

USF student Dania Shekfeh said she feels disrespected, but as an American Muslim, she has outlets to express her anger that many in the Muslim world don’t have.

ACT-Dania “you’re not just attacking a figure, its our example, its not bin laden, or Zawahari, its our example..�

Imam Sultan explained the origins of the ban on drawing Mohammed stem from a desire not to have people worship false idols.

ACT-Dr. Sultan “in Islam, we are not allowed to draw human or anything that as a soul with our hands…how idol worship started, people started worshipping these things as people, we don’t want to worship Mohammed, we worship god..�

Bedier also noted that protestors have not killed anyone, but its police or security forces who have killed protestors.

ACT-Bedier “in the American Muslim community we are responding differently, so while we see them lashing out, we are as offended but we have outlets to express our outrage that people in Iran don’t have, because many affairs are controlled by government.

And Shekfah pointed out that almost all of the protest against the Mohammed cartoons have been peaceful.

ACT-Dania “its not the majority, but its portrayed in the media…�

CAIR conducted a similar education campaign last year when the desecration of the Koran became and international issue. CAIR distributed 26,000 free Korans to anyone who wanted one. Bedier says they are trying to find opportunity in the tension of the controversy.

ACT-Bedier Even though there is this negative portrayal, its bitter sweet because people want to know more and we can educate and respond in a positive way..’

Again, to view the short video on Mohammed, or to order a free copy of the book on the move, log onto www.cair.com/mohammed

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